My Pandemic Diary, Entry #32

My Pandemic Diary, Entry #32

Hello Fellow City Cooks,

It’s another gray day, this one a Friday. I always make a note of what day of the week it is for two reasons.  First, since time has blurred, I’m resisting that blur so I can keep some semblance of structure in my life. But the other reason is that I’ve always thought that each day of the week felt unique; Fridays and Mondays for sure, but all the others, too. Maybe it’s just part of the mind game I’m playing with myself to try and keep things normal and familiar. 

In any case, it’s supposed to drizzle all day and so Mark and I once again skipped our walk and will instead do indoor exercises. But tomorrow morning we will absolutely get back to our circuit. No excuses.

This morning I received a FedEx delivery with a new 2TB external hard drive to back up my wounded computer. If you’re a Mac user, you will understand when I say that my Time Machine has malfunctioned and since the rest of my Mac is wheezing, one of the Apple geniuses told me earlier this week to do a complete back-up on a brand-new drive. So I know what I will be doing later this afternoon: watching a progress bar as my entire documented life gets saved.

Early this evening Mark and I are doing a Zoom family gathering. Both Mark’s and my families are all in Massachusetts (with a little spillover into southern New Hampshire) and today’s call will be with Mark’s gang. I made a point of washing my hair, I’m wearing my pearl earrings, and I just might put on lipstick so that I won’t alarm anyone with my usual stay-home visage. I can’t help but wonder what we all might look like once we emerge from our Covid caves. A bit like Rip Van Winkle, perhaps, but then what? We will return to having our public faces? And what about wearing shoes all day? Much of our re-entry to a public life is very serious, but some of the more personal changes, while cosmetic and not risky, will still confront us and even impact economic choices. Back to lipstick for a moment, if all women are wearing masks, will this impact lipstick sales? Or is this entire subject proof that I’ve been locked up for far too long?  Still, I’m so very much looking forward to seeing everyone later today, without a single care at all about how we look as long as we look healthy.

Cooking and Groceries

I have no plans for grocery shopping until probably Monday morning. This weekend I’ll update all my inventories and cooking plans and maybe also bake another loaf of bread, which takes nearly 24 hours from start to finish. It’s notable how meal planning has become more complicated because it almost always involves both some degree of defrosting and also making sure we all have the right ingredients on hand. Spontaneity, hallmarks of ordering-in or restaurant eating, has really disappeared from much of our cooking and eating. A last-minute stop at the grocery store has turned into a strategic event – is the store open, will there be lines, will they have what I need once I get inside, is it worth it to enter a busy public space just to have a jar of oregano or Greek yogurt?

Dinner tonight will be meal number three from our 9-pound ham. Yesterday afternoon I made a gorgeous (not my recipe so I'm not boasting) split pea soup using the leftover ham bone and a one-pound bag of Goya’s split peas that cost $1.53. I can’t remember ever making this soup before and so I had done a wide sweep of dozens of recipes until I found this one from a terrific blog called StripedSpatula.com. I liked that this recipe didn’t include potato, which to me can over-thicken what is already a rather full-bodied soup.

I had enough leftover ham that I doubled what the recipe indicated, making the soup substantial enough that it alone should be a good Friday night supper. I also still have some of the bread I baked last Sunday so I’m going to grill slices topped with cheddar cheese, like open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches, to go with the soup instead of adding the recipe’s recommended croutons. My refrigerator is starting to be empty so this is a case of working with what I have.

For the last amount of leftover ham, I have two ideas. One is to cut the ham into a large dice and add it to a pasta, like mac and cheese or maybe the Ina Garten bow ties with lemon and broccoli that I made a couple of weeks ago. An alternative is to make Italian flat breads – the kind that uses baking soda instead of yeast as a leavening agent -- called piadinas and fill them with sliced ham, cheese and salad. Here is Rachel Roddy’s recipe, and if you’ve never followed Rachel Roddy’s “A Kitchen In Rome” cooking columns in the The Guardian, I think you might like her voice and recipes, especially if you love Italian home cooking.

Stay safe and have a nice dinner.

Kate McDonough 

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